Dara Jebrock Talks About Building Her Construction Practice
When Dara Jebrock, a partner in RK’s Orlando office, began practicing law, she never imagined she would focus her practice on construction defect cases. Dara talks about her path that led her to work in construction law seven years ago, how things have changed over the years and her passion for her work and her travels.
When Dara entered college, she envisioned a career in government and majored in political science. Dara had been interested in government and history since high school and even served as president of student body. After working on some campaigns, she decided to change directions. “While I didn’t have a game plan or practice area in mind, I was drawn to the challenge of law school,” advised Dara.
Dara fell in love with litigation while working as a law clerk at an insurance defense firm. Dara said she knew she wanted to be a litigator because she enjoyed every aspect of it— from writing and researching cases to being present and participating in court. “After graduating from law school, I was hired at an insurance defense firm in Miami. Although I was working very long hours, from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., I truly enjoyed the work. I felt mentally stimulated and challenged all of the time.” Dara described that coming out of law school, the first and second year attorneys were given a lot of responsibilities and were always learning how to strategize, communicate with opposing counsel, working with clients and figuring out how to be a lawyer. “Luckily, I worked on a wide variety of cases so I was forming a clear picture of what I liked and didn’t like. After two and a half years of working really hard, I still enjoyed the work I was doing, but I also knew I was starting to burn out. I wasn’t actively looking to move, but a friend of mine worked at RK and told me about an opportunity here.“
She already knew she wanted to be in commercial litigation when she joined the RK team. “I never expected to enjoy construction cases as much as I do.” Construction defect cases are complicated and expert driven. “While we often deal with the similar legal issues, the cases are all different because the alleged defects are different for each property, said Dara. “These cases typically involve a lot of parties, attorneys, hearings, etc. I am always learning from others and I find the cases and constant opportunity to learn fascinating. The learning curve is really big because when working with experts on these cases, I have to have them teach me about proper construction methods and engineering. I also spend a lot of time in the field to see what’s being alleged and research the particular issue.”
Now Board Certified in Construction Law, Dara looks back to her beginnings in a challenging practice area. “I had to work hard to become conversant and earn the trust of the clients and opposing counsel that I can handle these large cases properly. Experts would come in wearing jeans and construction boots and wonder about the woman talking about stucco. I’ve definitely overcome those challenges as I have gotten to know the attorneys in this practice area and have built a reputation.” Having built her practice in this area, Dara advised that she is now treated as an equal. “In a practice area traditionally made up of male attorneys, I’ve noticed there are more women at the table than there were seven years ago. In addition, you also see entire juries made up of professional women, so the practice is diversifying both at the table and behind the jury box.”
Because she enjoy learning about new things, Dara loves to travel and explore different places. Recently she traveled to St. Thomas where she explored the ocean while driving an underwater motor scooter. “The BOSS (Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter) Underwater Adventure puts you down in the water wearing an oversized helmet that allows you to breathe normally and offers unobstructed views of the tropical reefs and colorful fish while you scoot around. The whole time I was under water, I kept trying to figure out how the machine works.”
Dara has also traveled extensively to Europe. “My favorite city is Paris, but I’ve also visited Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. I usually take one big trip each year and squeeze in smaller trips around Miami or visiting friends in New York City whenever I can. And, because I work hard, I find the best way to decompress is by doing Pilates and yoga at least three times a week.”